A school district in Conroe, Texas, suspended a 12-year-old autistic student for allegedly “brandishing” an “imaginary rifle.” The teacher reportedly claimed to have felt threatened by the child’s gestures, according to the child’s parents.
Police officers with the Conroe Independent School District (CISD) placed 12-year-old David Sims in handcuffs and took him to the Montgomery County Juvenile Detention Center, Fox 26’s Greg Groogan reported on Wednesday. “She (the CISD Police Officer) just put handcuffs on me and told me I need to go with her,” David Sims said.
Sims mother, Amy Sims, told Groogan that school officials said, “We don’t tolerate that. We take it as a threat.”
“He didn’t threaten anyone,” Mrs. Sims told the local Fox reporter. “He didn’t do anything but play.”
The pre-teen autistic student spent a little more than two hours in the detention center after his arrest, Fox26 reported.
Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright told the reporter it is not likely that autistic student will face criminal charges because of his age and disability. In Texas, a county attorney is the elected official who acts as the attorney for the county government.
“We want to get them turned around and on the right path,” Lambright explained.
Mrs. Sims said her the school did not notify her of the incident until after he was taken into custody. She said that her son’s condition keeps him from understanding that “make believe” gunplay is now inappropriate conduct in school.
“Being put in handcuffs, not knowing what he did wrong, I could have had a talk with him and told him look, I know you like to play guns, but you can’t do it in school,” she said.
Lambright said his office has been dealing with a rash of outbursts from students in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. He said that David’s Sims “imaginary rifle” gesture occurred after a verbal threat. He also said it was not the first time this has happened.
“Right after the Florida incident we were getting two a day, three a day and it wasn’t isolated to any particular school,” Lambright explained. “We have six school districts in Montgomery County and they were coming in across the County.”
While Conroe ISD officials would not comment specifically on the arrest, they did tell Fox 26, “Situations involving students with special needs are responded to with consideration for each unique need.”
Mrs. Sims told Groogan that the special treatment her son received was “the discriminatory kind.”
“Because he’s disabled, they automatically think he’s got something mental, so he might go shoot up a school,” Amy Sims said. Her family has been notified that David must spend the rest of the spring semester in an alternative disciplinary school.